The Basics of Poker

The game of poker is a card game in which players use the cards they are dealt to make the best 5-card hand possible. Unlike other card games, in poker the suits are not considered equal and the rank of the cards determines the value of the hand. For example, a high straight beats a low one (e.g. Q-K-A-2-3), but a wraparound straight (starting high and then going low) does not count as a hand.

After each player receives their 2 hole cards there is a round of betting with the person to the left of the dealer making the first bet. The other players can then call this bet or raise it. They can also choose to ‘fold’ – sliding their cards away face down and not taking part in that hand any more.

Once the betting is over the dealer will deal 3 additional cards on the table that anyone can use (this is called the flop). There will be another round of betting and then there will be a’showdown’ where players reveal their cards. The highest ranked hand wins the pot and all bets made.

When playing poker it is important to learn how to read your opponents. A good way of doing this is to observe how they play. Look out for tells such as shallow breathing, sighing, flaring nostrils, staring down the table, shaking hands or looking nervous. These tells can usually be used to pick out players who are bluffing.